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Despite BP corporate code, firm has made political contributions

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But many of the groups that received BP's money said they were unaware of this code and prohibition on political contributions.

Allan Zaremberg was a director of a tax-exempt political organization, known as a 527, that received a $3 million BP donation in 2006 for its work. It was the largest known single amount the firm has given to a political group.

"Californians Against Higher Taxes -- No on 87" was a pro-business entity to defeat Proposition 87, a ballot initiative put to California voters in November 2006 that would have used a 1.5 percent to 6 percent tax on producers of oil extracted in California to help reduce petroleum consumption in the state and fund research for alternative energy.

Zaremberg was and still is president of the California Chamber of Commerce. He did not agree to be interviewed for this article, but through a chamber spokeswoman said that he wasn't aware of BP's policy prohibiting political contributions.

"It's really their policy to define," spokeswoman Denise Davis said. "You need to ask them."

AKFirst.org was another 527 group funded largely by BP money. It was created to defeat a 2006 ballot initiative that would have levied a tax on untapped natural gas reserves in Alaska's North Slope to help pay for a pipeline to carry the gas out. At the time, BP was the dominant oil driller in the North Slope when pockets of natural gas were discovered deep underground. Its role in helping fund AKFirst and defeat the proposed tax was not disclosed.

Curt Thayer, who was the treasurer of AKFirst and is now the state's deputy commerce commissioner, said he was not aware of BP's corporate policy against political contributions.

"Yeah, it was political in nature. It was meant to influence the outcome of the election," he said of the group's work. "I'm unfamiliar with BP's policy. I'm not sure it was in existence at that time."

Research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.


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